By Andy Barnett, Kent
Both sides of the family were staunch Arsenal fans, eminating from the original Woolwich Arsenal days, so I was born a gooner.
My first ever game was at Highbury on a freezing Saturday afternoon in October 1972. We played Man City, in what turned out to be a very dull 0 0 draw.
I had begged dad for what seemed like years to take me to the place where the whole family constantly talked about, but mum had always refused to let me go, saying I was far too young.
We drove to the ground, and parked up about a mile away. After getting out of the car I remember feeling an atmosphere I had never come across before. It was electric (well it was for a 5 year old), everyone wearing red and white scarves (replica kit was non existent) all heading in the same direction. It felt like I was coming home, even though it was my first time.
As we approached the West Stand Lower, next to the Clock End entrance I was given instructions to stand close as we went through the turnstiles, dad tipped the guy a wink and slipped him a little extra as we both went through at the same time.
I will never forget the noise as we walked up the steps and that glorious green baize came into view. The North Bank were in full swing, Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal they screamed. I was loving it, it still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I think of it.
I really don’t remember much about the game, apart from dad moaning, but the 90 minutes went in the blink of an eye.
I had been captivated by the noise, the songs, the swearing, the characters, an awful bovril at half time, but most of all a little pocket of staunch Arsenal in the south West corner of the clock end.
That was the last time I sat down at Highbury for many a year. I became a clock end boy, the extra something that those boys gave, the passion for The Arsenal they had and being so close to the away supporters was something I don’t think I will ever experience at football again.
Would you like to contribute to this series of articles on the first time you saw Arsenal live? If so, please email your story to Tony.Attwood@aisa.org If at all possible please write the text as a word document and attach it to an email, and give your name as you want it to appear in the article, and your place of residence.
You might also be interested in our book “Making the Arsenal” which tells the story of Arsenal in 1910 through the eyes of a Fleet Street reporter at the time.